From: Craig Tupper (

Well. Of course the biggest Space Science news of the week came out last
Thursday, a little bit earlier than previously planned. A press conference
was held here at NASA HQ to announce “compelling” (although not necessarily
bulletproof) evidence of geologically recent, or even present-day, flows of
liquid water on Mars. This result comes from our currently-operating Mars
Global Surveyor spacecraft. Besides being interesting for its own sake,
this finding (if it holds up) has serious implications for the search for
life elsewhere in the Universe, as well as for potential future human
travel to Mars.

I wanted to send out a “special edition” of this newsletter on Thursday,
but, well, I’ve been pretty busy. To those of you who didn’t hear about
liquid Mars water yet: sorry about that!


In somewhat related news, a new study of a Martian meteorite suggests that
Mars’ ancient oceans were salty, much like Earth’s.


The solar system may not be quite as dangerous as previously thought. A
new statistical study of near-earth asteroids suggests that there are about
900 of these potentially threatening objects greater than 1 kilometer in
diameter, of which 40% have been found. This estimate is about half of that
predicted by similar types of analyses reported in the past decade and is
slightly larger than another estimate published recently.


Southern winter is giving way to spring on asteroid 433 Eros; soon NEAR
will catch a glimpse of never-before-seen terrain. Also, on July 7 NEAR
will fire its thrusters, to lower its orbit to only 35 kilometers above
Eros’ surface for a couple of weeks.

Seasonal story:


Earlier this month the House of Representatives passed their version of
NASA’s FY 2001 Budget request. The House Appropriations Committee report is
available online at ; for ease
of reference we are providing those portions relevant to NASA at . Space Science is
addressed under the Science, Aeronautics, and Technology section of the
report; the major item relevant to Space Science is the proposed deletion
of our proposed Living With A Star initiative.


Deep Space 1 has a new lease on life, as the mission has had success with
one of its greatest challenges: figuring out a new way to navigate the
spacecraft after its star tracker died. DS1 will attempt to start its ion
engine again soon, heading for a rendezvous with Comet Borelly.

DS1 status report:


XMM-Newton has clarified what is going on within the six-star Castor
system. Stars whirling all over at



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